In 2021, the Suez Canal obstruction has reminded us how shipping is central to our global economy. But shipping industry is also among the world’s biggest polluters and tax avoiders. Join us for a session with a cross-border team that has investigated this often opaque industry over the course of one year.

Register for the session here

Objectives to fight the climate crisis are clear: global emissions need to be reduced, across countries and sectors. The shipping industry’s emissions are larger than those of Germany, they seriously impact our climate and they are continuing to rise. The industry is also awarded huge subsidies, saving billions through preferential tax arrangements offered by European countries.

Craig Shaw,  Nikolas Leontopoulos and Zeynep Sentek wanted to know if the shipping industry and IMO – the International Maritime Organisation, a division of the United Nations – are serious in their efforts to reduce emissions.

They and their team travelled to different European countries, interviewed climate activists, experts, politicians, lobby groups, shipowners and health professionals.  They’ll present us their findings and their methodology. You should also check out their documentary.

Olaf Merk who leads leads the work on ports and shipping at the International Transport Forum (ITF) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will also join the panel to share his work about shipping’s tax evasion. Merk collected financial records of around one hundred major shipping companies, hoping to “put a number on” the industries’ tax burden.

“On average, the tax rate of the shipping industry is around 7 percent of their profits, which is well below the average OECD rate for corporate tax income, which is around 24% (…)  For example, concerning the cruise sector, we found out that on average their tax rate is 0%,” Merk stated.

Carmen Aguilar García

Curious about how one can investigate big polluters in Europe? Save the date May 21, 4:00 pm CET and join us at the Dataharvest conference for a session on how to track industrial emissions.

Register for the conference here

The UK has pledged that by 2050, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by all the cars, homes and industry in the country will be net-zero. Manufacturing and industry – that are the drivers of the country’s economy and important job providers – often escape public scrutiny. A data-led investigation found out that 15 firms are responsible for around a sixth of all the UK’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.

The investigation was a cross-border collaboration between Sky News (UK), El Pais (Spain), Le Figaro (France), Le Soir (Belgium) and Gazeta Wyborcza (Poland).

“We used publicly available data from the European Trade System (ETS) to find the installations that produced more CO2 emissions in 2019, and we dug into companies’ public statements, news media articles, and companies’ account reports to track the parent companies responsible for each installation and therefore the emissions allocated in the ETS,” explains data journalist Carmen Aguilar García. They also considered the UK carbon budget, “in order to put the ETS figure into context in the wider picture of the CO2 emissions produced in the UK,” she explains.

The story made it to the top 10 Sky News story of the day.  In this session, Carmen Aguilar Garcia will take us through her investigation process, and share with us tips on how to deal with the ETS data, and replicate the methodology in other EU countries.

Read the investigation here



The climate crisis is probably the biggest story of our time and, at Dataharvest Digital, we are always following the relevant story – across the borders and fields.
This is why we’ve decided to “follow the pipeline”, and make the energy sector’s impact on climate the focus of Dataharvest 2020.
We have dedicated a number of sessions, spread over two weeks in September and November, to different aspects of investigative, in-depth, data and cross-border coverage of the climate and energy sector.
We will be looking into the lobbying mechanisms and their impact of the European climate policies; we’ll track climate deniers, across the countries and on Twitter, and get an overview of the available datasets related to climate and energy by relevant data providers. We’ll explore the world of the VAT fraudsters on the energy market and look into fraudulent carbon credits, and see how big business can sometimes turn green energy dirty.
Dataharvest digital is also conceived as an online meeting place that will bring together (investigative) journalists working or interested in the field of climate and energy to exchange their experiences, network and brainstorm on future stories.
Join 13 weeks of online learning, networking and discussion – register here: